Richard Serra has not made a film or video since 1979, which may help explain why this aspect of his work is sometimes overlooked, says Søren Grammel, the curator of Richard Serra: Films and Videotapes at the Kunstmuseum Basel, which opens this month (20 May-15 October). The show presents 15 works on 16mm film (copied from fragile originals) and videotapes made from 1968-79, including ten from the museum’s collection. Serra’s interest in process and materials, which drives his sculpture, also figures in his films, Grammel says, pointing to a series of works from 1968 that focus on Serra’s hands, which “always demonstrate a particular action that can be applied to a material”. In Hands Scraping (1968), lead shavings initially fill the frame and resemble a grainy image, but are gradually cleared away by Serra and his collaborator, the composer Philip Glass, to reveal clean floorboards underneath. “In a way, that’s like focusing an image,” Grammel says.
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Richard Serra shows his hand'